• Sunday, November 28, 2021

    write for AmsterDOCollaborate


    Amsterdam… a melting pot of cultures and characters; ours is home to many different nationalities and ethnic groups; just like a poster child for openness and independent thinking.

    Of course, the city as in many others nowadays, many different groups exist; but there is a difference in Amsterdam which makes it cut away from the norm and be unique. It is, I believe, a fantastic mix. Compared to cities like London or New York characterized by its polarity among the population where ethnic, religious and other types of groups keep to themselves, mixing maybe within similar circles ; a culture of successful integration combined with respect for other cultures occurs faster and with more success in Amsterdam. Places like Zeedijk or De Bijlmer, where the population – due to different factors like low incoming houses and the location of the area – seen once as homes for one particular ethnic group quickly became colorful neighborhoods; they are in reality the home of many nationalities and cultures. From artists to students and from Indians to Porto Ricans, these types of suburbs represent the depth of integration in Amsterdam. This blend is not only found in the burrows but also in its people. A group of friends in the city can have differences in nationalities, religion and even political affiliation and yet be friends, enjoy each other’s company and often create happy families. It is the Amsterdam way.

    Of course, Amsterdam is not a Utopia. Characters such as Geert Wilders and Mohammed B, can be found, even in a fully integrated society. However, when compared, the country can be proud of its continuous efforts to tolerate and embrace other cultures without loosing its own. Outside and inside the country the Dutch integration process is a topic for discussion. In general most Dutch people see the relative success of the “inburgering” (integration) policies as part
    of their inherent tolerance towards other cultures. They see themselves – perhaps in comparison to other North European countries – as more welcoming to other nationalities; electing the appropriate government to develop and execute rules and regulations to receive, with readiness, other nationals into their territory.

    Now, who are these “foreigners”? What attracts them to the Netherlands and to the city of Amsterdam? I.e. My story: I have been in the country for 11 years. After finishing my bachelor degree in Law, in the Dominican Republic, I came to Groningen in 2001 to study a Masters in International Law and Human Rights. I confess that, before 1999, I did not know much about the Netherlands; with the exception of Tulips, Cheese and Erasmus of Rotterdam, this country was of little interest to me. Why the Netherlands then? Plainly and simply, love; as many others, I met a Dutch guy while studying in Santo Domingo and within two years I was in the Netherlands for good. The relationship was not a success, and in April 2006, I moved to Amsterdam, stood in front of a bus stop and said to myself: “I’m home”.

    I love this city and everything about it. One can find entertainment, culture and much more, all within a bike ride.
    I have made many close friends, and the challenges have allowed me much personal growth and learning to appreciate
    where I am. What about the others? Is this the way nationals of developing countries see Amsterdam? Do they feel accepted and welcomed? What is the opinion of those arriving every year looking to have a better life?

    In this segment, we will discuss a different group from a developing country every month. Bringing their story; what
    brought them to Amsterdam? What are the challenges they face and what is their “Amsterdam Experience”?We will explain
    what characteristics are inherent of each group; their values and beliefs, with opinions and verifiable facts about how they integrate whilst trying to maintain their own traditions and ideals. This is a brand new section in AmsterDO, to show the many cultures within the expat life in Amsterdam and make your experience in the city even more beautiful.

    Yahaira L. Reyes



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